Each week I'll write about the sport I love, college basketball:
• I know it is only summer, but I cannot wait for the 2012-13 season to start. It should be excitement galore since the new campaign will have a number of outstanding matchups early. Specifically Nov. 13, a day that should be circled on the calendars of all hoop junkies. There is a basketball marathon on ESPN, giving a number of teams the unique opportunity to get TV exposure. It all starts with Gonzaga hosting West Virginia in a rematch of last year's NCAA tournament second-round game. It ends with a great doubleheader in Atlanta, featuring Michigan State and Rock Chalk, Jayhawk Kansas, followed by Kentucky-Duke. Schools such as Temple, New Mexico, Massachusetts and St. John's will be on the schedule, as will the Butler-Xavier showdown.
• Good news for UCLA fans. Besides one of the top recruiting classes coming to Westwood, coach Ben Howland has to be happy to see big man Joshua Smith working harder on his conditioning. That has been an issue in the past, and reports indicate Smith is getting into better shape. That could mean added productivity in the paint. It helps that the Bruins have additional practice time this summer as they prepare to go overseas for an exhibition tour in China come August.
• College basketball received some love at the 2012 ESPYS. Indiana's Christian Watford won the Best Play of the Year, as voted by the fans. I was at that game with my buddy Dan Shulman, as we saw Watford get the win against Kentucky. He canned the three-pointer, which led to bedlam in Bloomington. The undefeated and No. 1 Wildcats went down, though John Calipari's team got a little revenge in the Big Dance, knocking off Indiana!
• The pairings were announced for the Orange Bowl Classic down in Sunrise, Fla. The one-day event features defending ACC tourney champion Florida State against Tulsa, and Florida versus Air Force on Dec. 29 at the BankAtlantic Center.
• This is a busy time of the year for schools to give contract extensions to head coaches. Among those who received extensions recently were California's Mike Montgomery, Iowa's Fran McCaffery and Quinnipiac's Tom Moore.